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Fri 12 Apr 2019 10:19 AM

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SpaceX launches mission for Saudi Arabia's Arabsat

SpaceX's mission is to deploy Arabsat-6A, a high-capacity telecommunications satellite for the Saudi company

SpaceX launches mission for Saudi Arabia's Arabsat

Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp has launched its massive Falcon Heavy rocket for Saudi Arabia’s Arabsat, the rocket’s first mission for a paying customer.

Falcon Heavy rumbled aloft at 6:35pm local time from NASA’s Kennedy Space Station in Florida. SpaceX then recovered all three of the boosters back on Earth, achieving a feat it wasn’t able to pull off in the rocket’s demonstration flight last year.

The two side boosters simultaneously returned to land and the center core touched down on a drone ship hundreds of nautical miles out in the Atlantic Ocean.

“The Falcons have landed,” Musk tweeted.

SpaceX’s mission was to deploy Arabsat-6A, a high-capacity telecommunications satellite that will deliver television, radio, internet and mobile communications to customers in the Middle East, Africa and Europe, according to a press kit.

SpaceX set a company record last year with 21 launches for customers. Much of the focus this year is on the first flight with humans on board: SpaceX and Boeing Co have contracts with NASA to ferry American astronauts to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew program.

SpaceX completed its Demo-1 flight for the program in March. The next key steps are an in-flight abort test, followed by the first flight with two astronauts.

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